New Research on African American Coking Workers

Alan Derickson has published new research examining how  dangerous working conditions impacted the post emancipation black working class. The article, “‘Gateway to Hell’: African American Coking Workers, Racial Discrimination, and the Struggle against Occupational Cancer,” appears in the Winter-Spring 2016 Journal of African American History.

Working-Class Graphic Narratives

Between the Lines books has a series of graphic narratives illustrating the stories and struggles of labor history, including May Day: A Graphic History of ProtestDrawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle; and Ginger Goodwin.  Below is a description of it’s latest publication, Showdown! Making Modern Unions, by Rob Kristofferson and Simon Orpana with a foreword by Paul Buhle.

“Seventy years ago, thousands of North American workers took a stand for a better life. And they won. In 1946, in the United States, over a million workers in the steel, meatpacking, and electrical industries put down their tools and walked out; and striking Canadian workers tied up provincial rubber and logging industries, the Southam newspaper chain, central Canadian ports, and the national steel industry. Workers in Hamilton, Ontario hoisted picket signs at Westinghouse, Firestone, Stelco, and The Hamilton Spectator, and with the support of rallying friends and neighbours, turned the strikes into a community-wide struggle for decency, respect, and security.

Based on interviews and other archival materials,this graphic history illustrates how Hamilton workers translated their experience of work and organizing in the 1930s and early 1940s into a new kind of unionism and a new North American society in the decades following World War II.”

UMass Labor Center Facing Budget Cuts

Eve Weinbaum, Director of the Labor Center at UMass-Amherst, writes, “We are asking administrators to reverse the cuts to Labor Studies; to restore our graduate student funding and externships; to maintain our full curriculum; to honor the Labor Studies faculty’s autonomy to make programmatic decisions and to designate a Director; and to commit that the Labor Center is an integral part of the University’s educational mission, not just a profit center to subsidize other programs.” Click here to read her letter and how to offer support.  Additional information can be found here.  A signed petition is also underway at Change.Org.


YSU’s Center for Working Class Studies revitalized

Youngstown State University’s Center for Working Class Studies is reviving and re-engaging the important work begun more than 20 years ago by co-founders Sherry Linkon and John Russo. Under the direction of current director Tim Francisco, the CWCS is putting together, and putting in motion, a revitalization plan that includes programming and curricular initiatives. The Center for Working Class Studies at YSU was the foundation for the field of Working Class Studies and the “Youngstown Conference” as it was known, sparked an international conversation about work, class and inequity. Now more than ever, as the gap between haves and have-nots widens at unprecedented levels, and as class dominates our social, political, economic, and educational realities, the many interested faculty and community affiliates in Youngstown recognize the urgency and the opportunity to re-engage the scholarly and social justice missions of the CWCS.

In Fall 2017, YSU and CWCS will restart the Working Class Studies Curriculum with a graduate course on Storytelling and Public Humanities that will deploy storytelling as means of documenting the increasing precariousness of working class families. The class is designed to spark community conversations about work, class, and equity.

Former recipient of the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing nominated for the Paterson Poetry Prize


Jeanne Bryner’s new book of poetry, Both Shoes Off, Bottom Dog Press, (April 2016) has been nominated for the Paterson Poetry Prize.

About her work:

“I love Jeanne Bryner’s poetry for the way it pulls me out of being lost in relentless abstract thinking and returns me to the real world of nature and people who know how to live and work in it. Jeanne sees and feels the actual world and also meanings and metaphors, and then shares her vision and her feelings in language that for me brings the word “health” to mind and then becomes: love, of the most generous kind. Love, strength and beauty radiate from Jeanne’s poems as, indeed, they do from herself, personally.”
-Gurney Norman, Kentucky author

What Color is Your Collar? Privilege, Power, and Social Class Conference

The 2017 meeting of the Association for Women in Psychology will be held at the Downtown Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee, WI, March 2-5, 2017. We welcome submissions on any theme related to the fields of Psychology of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, and we especially welcome presentations devoted to the conference theme: What Color is Your Collar?  Privilege, Power, and Social Class.  Proposals for the conference may be submitted anytime between September 1 and November 1, 2016.  For more information, visit

Online lecture on the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union now available

A 90-minute illustrated lecture by Allan Berube on the history of the Marine Cooks and Stewards Union – a multi-racial, left-wing, gay-friendly labor union of the 30s and 40s –  is now accessible online.  According to, “No Red-Baiting, Race-Baiting, or Queen-Baiting!: An MCSU History” “tells the surprising and inspiring story of how ship stewards and other workers on luxury cruise liners banded together and overcame racial, sexual, and other divisions to create a militant union in the 1930s.”